© 2015 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHECK OUT SHMOOP'S FREE STUDY TOOLS:

Essay Lab | Math Shack | Videos

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones

by

Alice Sebold

CHECK OUT SHMOOP'S FREE STUDY TOOLS:

Essay Lab | Math Shack | Videos

The Lovely Bones Chapter 1 Summary

How It All Goes Down

  • Meet our narrator, Susie "like the fish" Salmon (1.1). She's been dead since December 16, 1973. She was fourteen years old when she was murdered by her neighbor, Mr. Harvey.
  • Here's what happened:
  • It's snowing and Susie takes a shortcut, through the cornfield, to get home after school. She gets a little scared when she comes upon Mr. Harvey there in the dark.
  • He makes small talk with her, and she says she has to go home.
  • But then Mr. Harvey says he wants to show her this really cool "hiding place" (1.24) he built underground. It has a wooden hatch, covered with dirt. The hatch keeps it from caving in.
  • Susie is a really curious girl, very interested in science and engineering.
  • She feels the excitement of a young child making a new discovery. She's never been in any real danger, and she doesn't know enough to be afraid.
  • So, she goes into the underground room with Mr. Harvey, marveling that he has dug out all that dirt. He's even dug shelves. A little battery operated lamp sheds light on the amazing structure.
  • She thinks Harvey's weird, but like her dad said, he's "just a character" (1.42).
  • Susie wants to know everything about the dirt room – how he built it, how he learned to build it.
  • But Susie's "in transit" (1.44) between Earth and her heaven when Harvey takes it apart after her murder. She doesn't see him collapse the hole and put her body in a bag.
  • She's in heaven now, and she can watch Earth.
  • The hole is all closed up three days later, when the neighbor's dog finds her elbow with a little piece of cornhusk on it,.
  • But back to the story of her murder:
  • Next Harvey pressures Susie stay and have a coke, and starts asking her personal questions, like: Does she have a boyfriend? Is she a virgin?
  • Now Susie is scared and tries to leave but Mr. Harvey tells her she isn't going anywhere.
  • She fights as best she can, not having any knowledge of self defense, but loses.
  • When he's kissing her, she thinks of her first and only other kiss, with Ray, a boy she has a crush on.
  • She begs him not to, but Harvey brutally rapes her, stuffing the jingly pompom of her hat into her mouth when she screams.
  • After, he shows her a knife and asks her if she loves him. She says yes, but he still kills her.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Noodle's College Search
Noodle's College Search
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement